Why are airplanes made of aluminum
Aluminum blows up - planes
A penguin could fly too. Scientists have calculated that it could take off at a take-off speed of around 450 kilometers per hour. Despite its weight and despite the small wings.
And the same is true of airplanes: weight and wing shape determine whether an aircraft takes off or not - and of course whether and how long it stays in the air. That is why there are no aircraft made of iron.
Aircraft bodies are made of aluminum because aluminum is very light. As early as 1906, a special aluminum alloy, the so-called dural aluminum, was invented for this purpose. The addition of lithium reduces the density of the alloy and makes it lighter. The hardness is increased by adding copper. Today, aluminum is partially being replaced by the even lighter carbon fiber. In the most modern wide-body aircraft, the Airbus A350, this proportion is already over 50%.
After 30 to 35 years, which corresponds to 45,000 take-offs and landings or 80 million flight kilometers, a passenger aircraft normally retires.
Up to now there is no standardized recycling of aircraft. The "pensioners" stand in aircraft graveyards, mostly in American deserts, waiting to see what happens next.
Airplanes are real raw material bombers. The Airbus A300 - first put into service in 1972 - is one of them. It weighs 88 tons, the paint alone weighs one ton. The remaining weight consists of 77% aluminum, 12% steel, 4% titanium (chassis) and 3% copper (mainly from the cabling). In an EU-funded pilot project, such an aircraft was systematically refurbished for the first time: 95% of the discarded aircraft are either reusable or recyclable.
The future of aircraft construction no longer belongs to pure aluminum. Carbon fiber and new composite materials are on the rise. The “glare” laminate is used on the new Airbus A350, which is still under development: a thin layer of aluminum alternates with a layer of glass-reinforced adhesive. The upper fuselage shell of the aircraft will be made of glare: weight saving 800 kg.
It is also expected that the new aircraft will “work” for twice as long. A baby born today could be 70 years old on an airplane that entered service in 2014.
However, some aircraft involuntarily end their career earlier than intended.
One of the most beautiful photo books on this subject is "Happy End". Dietmar Eckell traveled around the world and photographed aircraft wrecks. The special thing about it: only those who crashed nobody died. The wrecks are in such inaccessible areas that they are still there today - decades after the accidents.
The photos were made available to us by Dietmar Eckell.
The aluminum aircraft bodies are not only light, they also do not rot.
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